Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I Was a Jewish Hitler in the 5th Grade

My latest post for the Secular Spectrum: I Was a Jewish Hitler in the 5th Grade.

No really, I was. I was given an assignment to profile a famous person in history class. I picked Hitler because I was curious about the Holocaust. I always picked subjects I was curious about for my book reports. If I had more consciousness about my heritage, I would already have known more than the bare essentials about the genocide of my people by the Nazis.

But it was my ADHD to blame when I missed the rest of the teacher's instructions. I heard the part about how we were supposed to write the report as the person we were profiling. The part I missed was when she said we had to read it out loud in class.

When it came time for us to read the reports, I was appalled. I went to the teacher and asked her if I could avoid readed my report. She refused. I then told her that my subject was Adolf Hitler. Still, she wouldn't let me avoid read it aloud. So, I got up in front of that class filled with fundamentalist Christians and pretended that I was Adolf Hitler, the man who murdered six million of my people.

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Coma Girl

Coma Girl

Not a miracle recovery, but a miracle of modern medicine

In 2013 I fell into a six-week coma and nearly died after I contracted legionella. The Legionnaire's disease was in turn triggered by immunosuppression caused by the prednisone I was taking for my rare autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis.

I suffered a series of strokes on both sides of my brain when the sepsis caused my blood pressure to plummet. I fell into a deep coma. My kidneys and lungs began to fail, as my body was began dying one organ at a time. My doctors told my loved ones to give up hope for my full recovery. They expected me to die, and even if I somehow lived, I would remain a vegetable or at best left so hopelessly brain-damaged that I would never be same. But unbeknownst to them, while they were shining lights in my eyes and shaking their heads, I was telling them in my coma-dream--my secular version of a near-death experience--to leave me alone because I was trying to get back to sleep. I was experiencing what is known as covert cognition, the subject of my Skeptical Inquirer article "Covert Cognition: My So-Called Near-Death Experience," which appeared in their July/August issue.

But it wasn't a miracle--despite what so many continue to believe--that I recovered so fully. I owe my life not to God, but the miracles of modern medicine, as well as the nature of the watershed-area brain damage I suffered, as I detailed in my article and in this blog.